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Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks

Fox News (Politics) - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 09:44
A potential nuclear deal with Iran has riled up several high-profile Republican senators and has Democrats hesitant on how to proceed.

College Students Cheering Sanders Should Take A Step Back

TownHall Latest columns - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 09:35
Ten thousand college students, many of whom may not be able to find a good full-time job when they graduate, were cheering socialism at a Democratic political rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T14:35:00Z Donald Lambro

The Separation of Powers, Stare Decisis, and the Constitution

Cato Recent Op Eds - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 08:04

Roger Pilon

Because the U.S. Constitution is dedicated to liberty through limited government, power is divided between the federal and state governments and separated among the three branches of the federal government—the purpose in both cases being to pit power against power in order to check it.

Stare decisis, the principle that courts should follow previous rulings when deciding similar cases, plays a limited but important role in that undertaking: it gives notice to actors in the political branches and the states about what the law is and what it will likely be in the future, thus securing the rule of law.

Furthermore, it enables private parties also to adjust their behavior and plan ahead; especially in economic and business affairs, where long-term investments are common, legal stability and predictability are crucial.

But stare decisis is not an absolute principle, because justice is important too—and courts make mistakes. In fact, especially regarding the interpretation of broad provisions of the Constitution, where courts can more easily make mistakes, stare decisis plays a more limited role.

“Obergefell illustrates the interplay between stare decisis and the division of powers between the federal and state governments.”

We saw that just days ago in the same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. In 1967, after the Supreme Court struck down a Virginia statute criminalizing interracial marriage, Loving v. Virginia, a Minnesota same-sex couple, looking to the Loving decision, unsuccessfully sought a marriage license from a county clerk.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the clerk’s decision did not violate the U.S. Constitution, and in 1972, in Baker v. Nelson, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily dismissed the couple’s appeal. Yet less than two weeks ago the Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land, thus overruling Baker v. Nelson.

Perhaps the most famous example of the Court’s overruling a prior constitutional ruling is the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the public school desegregation case that rejected the “separate-but-equal” principle that arose from the Court’s 1897 Plessy v. Ferguson decision.

More recent, however, was the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, where the Court found a Texas statute criminalizing same-sex sodomy to be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, thus overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, which it had decided only 17 years earlier.

The Lawrence decision is instructive because it prepared something of a foundation for Obergefell. With same-sex sodomy illegal in several states when Lawrence came before the Court, same-sex marriage could hardly have been made the law of the land. Thus, while not a precedent, strictly speaking—nor is Obergefell a proper example of stare decisis based on Lawrence—the Lawrence decision was certainly a precondition and an example of how law changes over time, often in small steps.

But what Obergefell illustrates also is the interplay between stare decisis and the division of powers between the federal and state governments. Prior to the Court’s ruling, the regulation of marriage rested almost entirely with the states. Several, of course, had recently changed their law and begun recognizing same-sex marriages. But that “precedent”—resting the regulation of marriage with the states—was limited by Obergefell insofar as states can no longer refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

And the way that was done is also instructive. The division of powers between federal and state governments reflects American federalism. But that arrangement was fundamentally changed by the Civil War Amendments. The Fourteenth Amendment in particular, for the first time, provided federal remedies for state violations of our rights, plus the duty of states to apply the laws equally. The Obergefell petitioners brought their case on both grounds, claiming that the states deprived them of their right to marry their partners and denied them the equal protection of the laws. Ultimately, the Court decided the case mainly on the first ground, which is unfortunate because, as Justice Thomas showed in his dissent, the couples were free to marry; but because the state would not recognize their marriage and afford them the accompanying benefits, the decision should have rested mainly on equal protection grounds—the state was denying them the benefits it was providing for opposite-sex couples.

Not only the Court, but also the four dissenters failed to articulate a well-reasoned account of how our Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence was meant to work. In a nutshell, while the Constitution limited federal power, that amendment was meant to limit states from running roughshod over our natural rights. Because so many judges are unclear about what those rights are, while many others believe that question should be left to the democratic process, which would defeat the purpose of the amendment, stare decisis is likely to continue playing a limited role in this most active area of our constitutional law.

Roger Pilon is vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

Perry: Trump doesn't get it

Fox News (Politics) - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 06:18
Donald Trump doesn't understand the challenges with securing the border from illegal immigrants, said former Texas Gov.

Huckabee calls for term limits for justices

Fox News (Politics) - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 05:49
Still incensed by the court's narrow ruling on gay marriage last week, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that there needs to be a term limit for justices, who now serve lifetime appointments.

Putin reportedly contacts Obama for second time in weeks about unity on global concerns

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 23:30
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a congratulatory Fourth of July message to President Obama and expressed confidence that their respective countries can work together on global issues including terror threats, according to news agencies.

Clinton campaign ropes off reporters at New Hampshire parade

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 23:30
Campaign aides for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Saturday roped off reporters from the candidate as she walked and talked with potential voters during a July Fourth parade in New Hampshire, sparking frustration from the press corps and outrage from the state Republican Party.

Celebrating Democracy

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Linda Chavez

Freedom First!

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
The Fourth of July we celebrate this weekend heralds a document proclaiming both our nation's independence and our unwavering commitment to freedom. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Scott Rasmussen

Europe's Real Existential Crisis

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Pat Buchanan

Supreme Court May Have Saved Obamacare, but It Doomed Young Americans’ Health Care Options

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
Six Americans in black robes have, yet again, saved the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from a major crisis, but the most important part of this story for young people is their atrocious ruling will cause significant problems for the nations youngest and healthiest citizens. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Justin Haskins

What Makes America Great?

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
With the July 4th holiday upon us, it is a good time to reflect on Americas founding principles and how we can ensure that our nation remains true to those principles, which made us the greatest country on Earth. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Edward White

Don't Give Up On America

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
As I've said, I was very alarmed, though not particularly surprised, by the two Supreme Court decisions last week in which the court's majority blithely bastardized the English language, the Constitution, the rule of law and the very idea of truth in order to further advance the progressive agenda in this nation. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z David Limbaugh

Sacramento School: Hey, Let's Dumb Down Education for Immigrants!

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:35
A republic such as the one born 239 years ago tomorrow requires a populace capable of citizenship. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-05T03:35:01Z Charlotte Hays

Maryland's Larry Hogan Fighting Hard

TownHall Latest columns - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 15:35
Maryland, nicknamed the Old Line State, was often the main battlefield of pivotal Civil War conflicts, including the bloodiest day of battle: Antietam. 2015-07-03T00:01:00-04:00 2015-07-04T20:35:01Z Arthur Schaper

39 new American citizens naturalized at Baltimore Independence Day ceremony

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 15:23
Thirty-nine people from countries as nearby as Canada and as far away as India became United States citizens on Independence Day in a special ceremony in Baltimore.

Haley’s Charleston response, Confederate flag stand spark VP talk

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 14:23
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s response to the Charleston massacre, highlighted by her call to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds, has thrust her back into the national spotlight and re-ignited talk about what role she might play in the 2016 race. 

Putin reportedly contacts Obama for second time in weeks about unity on global concerns

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 14:18
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a congratulatory Fourth of July message to President Obama and expressed confidence that their respective countries can work together on global issues including terror threats, according to news agencies.

Man arrested in connection with San Francisco killing had been deported several times, officials say

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 12:34
The man arrested in connection with the seemingly random killing of a woman who was out for a stroll with her father along the San Francisco waterfront is an illegal immigrant who previously had been deported five times, federal immigration officials say.

Race to replace ex-Rep. Schock a classic GOP primary contest

Fox News (Politics) - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 12:17
The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has shaped up as a classic Republican primary, pitting the son of a longtime Illinois congressman and Cabinet member against a conservative writer who has railed at what he sees as the "establishment" GOP hand-picking the disgraced lawmaker's successor.


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